Sunday, February 6, 2011

Rebuilding a supers front end

Well, I finally have gotten some time to work on my buddy's super beetle. It has been in my driveway for a few weeks. The rear drum was stripped out so it wouldn't drive and the front end is completely worn out and needs all it's bushings and other components changed. I started with the drum so I could take it for a test drive and feel the shaking that the front end was doing for myself.

 After I pulled the cotter pin the nut came off with just my hands.
 This is the inside of the drum. There should be splines in there. Once the splines get stripped, You can't move at all.
 Here you can see the splines on the new drum.
 I had to replace the axle nut because it was grooved really bad. These puppies are expensive. 13 bucks a pop.  I just got it put on and now I need to torque it.
 The torque required is 250 foot pounds. That is a lot of torque. Most people get a breaker bar with a 4 foot cheater attached to it. I have a torque meister that makes for easy work in torquing axle nuts and also gland nuts on the engines flywheel. Well worth the 60 dollars for the tool. Here I am torquing it.
 And there it is, torqued and safetied. I put the wheel back on and checked the other side to make sure it had the proper torque. It did so I talked Dixie into going for a ride with me to check out the shake.
We took it out on the road and it was shaking scary bad. I don't think we even hit 30 MPH before the steering wheel shook like crazy. I pulled it into the garage to tear into it.
 The first step was to get it securely on the jack stands. Don't need a bug crushing me.
 Here are some of the bushings I will be replacing. They are totally shot.
 This is the stabilizer bushing. It was sloppy also.
 I pulled both control arms and the stabilizer as one unit. Made for easy work.
 Here is the whole assembly on the ground. One of the front stabilizer clamps was completely smashed and I had to find a used one from Bob's VW. Darrell, the owner just gave it to me because it wasn't in the best shape but it was a lot better then the one I had.
 Here you can see the bushings. They just fell right out. I still had to remove the outer lining of the bushings though.
 Both ball joints are shot and need to be replaced. These are bolted in so it makes it a super easy job to replace them. On other cars they are pressed in or riveted on. Way to go VW engineers. I have to give them credit for making it easy. (Although the super beetle was constantly plagued by shimmies in the front ends)
 I had to go into the trunk to get to the bolt for the steering damper. VW engineers again were thinking of the mechanics because they put an access hole to get to the bolt.

Here is the first new part going on. The steering damper looks a little out of place because it's all shiny.                                      
 Here is the new and old ball joints.
 I bolted the new one onto the lower strut.
 A common problem with VW's is bad parts. There are so many people producing parts for VW's but a lot of them are crap. They are cheap but either don't fit or only last a short time. I try to get real German stuff when I can. It costs more but will outlast the china junk 10 to 1.
 I was going to try to keep the tie rods because I was told they weren't that old but as you can see, this set needed to be changed. Back to Bob's VW.
 OK I have the steering stabilizer on, ball joints installed and tie rods replaced. I am now at the point of replacing the bushings. Here I am driving that outer case of the old bushings out of the control arms.  If your going to do this a rivet gun with a chisel and flat die works extremely well. It's a lot better then trying to press out the sleeve with a socket.
 I am using polyurethane bushings. They are better all the way around than the rubber ones originally used. You just need to be sure to use plenty of lube that they supply because they will squeak if they are dry.
They are a 2 piece bushing which makes them easy to install. 

 Here I have all the bushings installed in both control arms and on the stabilizer bar. The assembly is ready to go back in.
 Here are the control arms installed onto the frame head.
 And the stabilizer bar is clamped in place with the new clamp on the far side.
 I still needed to install a new bushing into the idler arm. I removed it from the car. Here is the assembly. It was very loose like I suspected.
 Removing the arm turned into quite a project. It was seized on and I had to fire up the torches to add some heat. I hope I can save the threads on the idler bracket. They got a little beat up. Here you can see the brass bushing. I will need to take it to work and use the press to put that one in. That brass bushing is very expensive in my book. 37 dollars but is the only one to install so you won't ever have to do it again.

So to sum it up. I still have the idler arm bushing to install and then install the unit back in the car before I can take it for a spin and see if the shake is gone. I will have to get it aligned also. I still may have to change the steering universal joint before all is said and done but all in all a super beetle is pretty simple. I will let you know what I do and if the infamous shake is gone when it's back together.


Noslo Family said...

That was one LONG day's work and you were as dirty as some of those parts by the time you finished. Good job!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the pics. I am heading out to the garage to give this a shot!!

Anonymous said...

Just did this today... full front end replaced. Had the machine shop press out my old bearings though. All went super smooth... cars from AZ. Was the idler bolt super hard to put in the bushing? I had to hammer mine in.

THANKS for the guide.

Nick Rubalcava said...

How did you get the idler. Arm off of the tie rod?

The Bug Boys said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Bug Boys said...

I used a rivet gun and hit the tie rod to pop it off. A pickle fork would work also.

Nick Rubalcava said...

dang, i got the nut off but i couldn't get the tie rod to pop off i hit it (with a brass mallet and brass rod) for a couple of hours tonight and it still wouldn't let go

Brian Bohanna said...

Thanks for the Pics.. Just ripped out my entire front end.. Replacing everything.. Certainly does make it easy to get in there and give the underbody a good cleaning and resurface it with some POR-15..

childrenwith4legs said...

I'm in the process of doing this with my dad. Your pictures so far are identical to what we are dealing with, and have helped a lot. Thank you!

The Bug Boys said...

Glad it helped. Best of luck.